Monday, September 21, 2015

Come Fly Away With JK! - Pt I :)


I hope everyone's recovered from the party. :)

Now, fasten your seatbelts...because we're going flying with Jack Kelly!

An amazing article about JK finally landed (pun intended) in the Kellection the other day after I'd diligently searched for it for several years. When you read it, you'll agree it was worth the wait!

Published in an aviation magazine, this profile from the mid-1960s offers a fascinating look at JK's interest in flying. It also reveals information about his military service and about some of his appearances as an actor which involved aviation. Above all, it provides a different perspective on JK than the usual "fan" magazine story. It proves once again that he was far more than just a handsome face.

As an introduction, let's watch this clip from "Double Jeopardy", a 1965 episode of Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater in which JK starred as detective Fred Piper. The article explains how the flight scenes in this clip were filmed:

And, away we go:

"A Pilot, On Stage And Off
Written and photographed by

 Don Downie (c) The AOPA Pilot

Actor Jack Kelly enjoys flying as an avocation,

but he'd also like to be more closely involved with aviation in his television and screen activities.

"While filming a special television show for Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater, actor Jack Kelly shares the cockpit of a Piper Aztec with Fullerton, CA,  pilot J. Tom Brody." (Photo by Don Downie)
"It was quiet on the soundstage at Universal Studios near Hollywood, CA. In front of the cameras was a meticulous 'mock-up' of a new Aztec C. Actually, the motion picture prop was a production Piper fuselage from nose to baggage compartment, opened up like a sliced orange for proper camera angles.

"In the pilot's seat was Zsa Zsa Gabor, but her co-pilot knew a great deal more about flying than the Hungarian glamour girl. Flying right seat for Zsa Zsa was actor Jack (John A.) Kelly (AOPA 133779) who starred in the Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater TV film titled 'Double Jeopardy'. In addition to Kelly and Miss Gabor, the film included Lauren Bacall and Tom Poston.

"It would have been much more practical from a flying standpoint to have the roles in the cockpit reversed. Actor Kelly is an eager and active member of the Sky Roamers Flying Club of Burbank, CA, and an expert meteorologist.

"While he's working in Hollywood, Jack Kelly finds the Sky Roamers an ideal flying club for his purposes. 'There's everything a new pilot needs, including a Link trainer and lots of instruction,' he explained between takes of 'Double Jeopardy'.

"In this particular scene, which took 12 retakes, Kelly had to have a makeup artist remove Miss Gabor's lipstick each time. But Kelly is a professional actor who can switch quickly from camera capers to hangar flying.

"'I use the Sky Roamers' Cessna 172's and 175's to go golfing at Palm Springs or Borrego Springs, but I like to fly pretty high through Banning Pass,' he said.

"The basic idea for the script and lead character for 'Double Jeopardy' was Jack Kelly's.

"'I feel if we can keep private flying in the foreground of entertainment, we can influence more people to try it themselves,' he explained. 'At first, we kicked around the idea of having the lead character have the capability to fly himself. However, there seemed to be better plot opportunities to have him as an interested passenger involved with a great deal of flying and, of course, a great number of most attractive gals.'

"Even with his relatively brief experience in flying, Kelly doubled in brass as technical director on the set.

"'But what am I supposed to do, darlink,' asked Zsa Zsa, 'when I'm supposed to be piloting zis machine?' (Her on-camera accent is for real.)

"Kelly explained what the control movements would be to correspond with the rear projection color background that showed a landing at the Monterey, CA, Airport."

STAY TUNED FOR PART II and learn about JK's adventures (and misadventures) with military airplanes and some of his high-flying film roles!

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